After going 7-17 last April the Astros have come out of the gate strong in 2017, finishing the month with a 16-9 record — including a 12-4 mark against divisional opponents — that gives them a 3.5-game lead s in the AL West, pending the result of today’s Angels game. With their deep lineup the Astros were expected to have a potent offense, but they’re also finding success on the mound, with the third-best ERA in Major League Baseball entering Sunday’s action. Their offense ranks in the top five in the majors in both batting average and on-base percentage.
Keuchel tosses a gem as the #Astros take the series and finish April with a 16-9 record!
— Houston Astros (@astros) April 30, 2017
Perhaps the most promising sign for the team in the first month of the season is the performance of SP Dallas Keuchel. After a terrific 2015 in which he won the American League Cy Young Award, Keuchel struggled in 2016, posting a 4.55 ERA and 1.28 WHIP on the way to compiling a 9-12 record in 26 starts. In his first six starts of 2017, Keuchel is 5-0 — tying the franchise record for wins in April — with a 1.21 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.
At the plate, OF George Springer leads the team with 7 home runs, but IF Marwin Gonzalez isn’t far behind him, with 5 homers as a part-time player. 1B Yuli Gurriel started off slow but has picked things up of late, and he’s now hitting .329 on the season. SS Carlos Correa is hitting just .233, so if he starts to produce numbers that he was expected to put up this year he will help provide a boost to an offense that is already among the best in the league. The same can be said for 3B Alex Bregman, the team’s best offensive prospect, who is hitting .250 with 0 home runs and 6 RBI thus far in the season.
The Astros will start May with a four-game series at home against the Rangers, the only team in their division they didn’t play in April. Even though the Rangers have been a disappointing thus far in 2017, this could be a big series for the Astros, who have had difficulty beating their in-state rivals in recent seasons; the Astros were 4-15 against the Rangers last season and 6-13 in 2015. Getting off to a good start against the two-time defending AL West champions in this four-game series could show that the Astros are for real and have a good chance of ending the season in first place for the first time since moving to the American League in 2013. It won’t be easy, though, because the Rangers’ two best starting pitchers, Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish, are both slated to pitch in the series.